1085 - The First known record of Leigh-on-Sea is within the Domesday Book which was
compiled between 1085 and 1086, some 915 years ago. Leigh-on-Sea was part of the
Hundred of Rochford and was originally called Legra.
700 Years Ago
1300 - The first know Church on the cliffs above Old Leigh was built. Though there
is no evidence, it is suspected that there may have been a church nearer the main
community (on the water-front) before this time. Originally Leigh's community heart
was based near the sea, as many worked within the fishing industry; the high street
started where the Crooked Billet Public House is situated, to approximately where
the Smack Inn is now. See the local area map - download time approximately 20 seconds.
500 Years Ago
1500 - St Clement Church now resides on the ground of the original Church and was
probably built during the Norman times. Strangely while so much of the Cliff, both
east and west, has suffered serious subsidence, the ground beneath Leigh church has
shown little sign of movement!
300 Years Ago
1712 - "This stone is placed at ye spring head belonging to the Cundit by desier
of the parishoners of Leigh 1712. William Hutton Churchwarden. Thou greatly enriched
it with the river of God which is full of water." Later the well that this stone
stood at was owned by Lady Olivia Sparrow and removed from Rectory Grove in 1981.
For reference a Cundit in modern English is now a “Conduit” or a channel/pipe for
150 Years Ago
1835 - Lady Olivia Sparrow founds the first education establishment in Leigh called
Herschell School after the Rev. Ridley Herschell. The school consisted of three departments,
Boys, Girls, Infants and was finally closed down in 1913 after a several educational
1855 - The railway reaches Leigh... the link to Southend-on-Sea was completed some
2 years later - incidentally Southend-on-Sea has the world's longest pleasure pier,
some 3 miles up the coast.
The Past 100 Years
1896 - Conveyance for £400 on the 24 September 1896. The building was originally
called the "Leigh on Sea Hotel". Between the years of 1898 and 1910 the hotel was
renamed to the Grand Hotel. The licensed victualler during 1910 was a Mr. Tho Herbert
Riches. A garden was present on the front of the building, with tennis courts adjoining
the premise. Laurel and Hardy a reputed to have stayed at this Hotel.
1897 - Leigh became a urban district council and remained this way until 1921 when
it amalgamated with Southend Borough Council. Leigh now has a town council with some
limited powers over the communities activities.
1927 - In February 1927 the sea froze over.
(1939-45) The second world war tears into Leigh's buildings. Doodlebugs (V1 rocket)
threaten Leigh with its droning death call, Leigh suffers many losses during this
(1953) Old Leigh suffers again (previously 1921) from a exceptionally high tide causing
some significant flooding.
(1975) To commemorate European Architectural Heritage Year the rehabilitation of
Old Leigh's water supply. This can be found in the middle of Old Leigh's high street,
about 30 seconds walk from the beach - it is protected by a metal grill. See year
(1987) The year of freak weather conditions. January 1987 Leigh has to overcome yet
another freeze, blocking roads and most transport, giving children a winter playground
for slaying on Leigh cliffs and throwing snowballs. A hurricane tears the South east
of England apart and damages much of Leigh-on-Sea. During the evening of October
16, 1987, roofs were torn off, buildings and cars were damaged.
1997 - Leigh’s Diana memorial is laid down in the Broadway near St. Clements Church.
Old Leigh A Pictorial History (1994) by John F Bundock
From Slates to Computers (1990) by Barbara Willshaw
Leigh Parish Church of St Clement (1978) by John Bundock